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The last guy you'd expect to not understand Japan

Of all the people to say they don't understand the "Abenomics" of Japan, J. Christopher Flowers may be the last person anyone would expect.

The famed private equity investor acknowledged that he's had a "fantastic run" in Japan, but told CNBC in a wide-ranging interview that he can't predict when Japan's economy will snap out of its doldrums—an effort being led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe—and see an increase in consumer demand for lending.

"Here's what I will say about Abenomics in Japan," Flowers said. "I have been to Japan a hundred times. And the more I go, the more I realize that I have no idea what's going on there. And not only do I not know, I don't think anybody knows what's going on in Japan.

Flowers added that he thinks the question of when Japan and its "remarkable people" will begin a turnaround is a "political" rather than scientific question.

J. Christopher Flowers, chairman and founder of JC Flowers & Co.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
J. Christopher Flowers, chairman and founder of JC Flowers & Co.

Flowers became famous in the private equity world for his first big investment in Japan in 2000, when he and financier Tim Collins of Ripplewood Holdings amassed nearly a dozen investors to buy Long Term Credit Bank of Japan, an institution that played a major role in that country's post-war reconstruction but had fallen on hard times in the 1990s.

When LTCB went public in 2004, under the name Shinsei Bank, its value had increased tenfold and Flowers and Collins personally pocketed at least a half a billion dollars each.

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Flowers has stayed invested in Shinsei, for better and for worse, for nearly 15 years.

Japan has experienced slow growth since the beginning of the 1990s, when the country saw a collapse of real estate and stock prices.

By CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.

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